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Workplace romances may be bad for morale

Q&A with Nathan Whatley

published in The Oklahoman | February 14, 2019

In a business Q&A with The Oklahoman published on Valentine’s Day, labor and employment attorney Nathan Whatley discussed the issue of workplace romances, including their prevalence, why such relationships may be of concern to employers (even those that don’t involve a relationship between a supervisor and a subordinate), and what employers can do to avoid problems and liabilities resulting from workplace romances.

“While some employers have completely banned office romance, it’s more common for employers to establish policies placing certain restrictions and parameters on dating, particularly between those who have reporting relationships,” said Whatley. “As with any policy, such policies should be applied consistently, with training to supervisors and employees on workplace harassment and also on what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate workplace conduct.”

Whatley said employers should be particularly prepared for the fallout of workplace romances that don’t end well. At a minimum, romances gone bad may disrupt the workplace and hurt morale, productivity and employee retention. Others, though, may result in serious security concerns, work reassignments, and employees quitting.